photo: Carolyn Meyers
Anyone who’s had breast cancer (or loves someone who has had it) is “aware” of the disease. So when October rolls around each year and those phone calls, marathons, and flyers start coming around, reminding everyone that it’s “breast cancer awareness” month, I just want to close my eyes and ears. Yes, I know all about breast cancer, I’m perfectly well aware of it, and I don’t want to think about it anymore, thank you very much. I’ve never been a big advocate of pink ribbons, pink bracelets or pink hats. Actually, until I had breast cancer, I loved the color pink. But now it sort of makes me cringe.
So why, you might wonder, did I then partake in an event this past weekend, the sole purpose of which was to promote breast cancer awareness and raise money for the breast cancer nonprofit Susan G. Komen? Well, to be perfectly honest, one of the reasons was because it seemed like a great excuse to hang out with my brother (whose idea it was to attend). The other reason was because the event was held in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, at a lovely lake, and involved kayaking into the middle of the water and forming a huge “raft” of nearly 2000 kayaks and canoes. In fact, we were trying to beat the Guinness World Record and apparently we did! Go to http://www.onesquaremileofhope.org for details.
So it was a lovely day and wearing a pink hat and bracelet seemed a small price to pay on my part. A funny thing happened, too, while I was sitting in my kayak in the middle of that raft of humanity, all of us gathered there to support a cure for breast cancer. I looked around and noticed that there were people of just about every age, size, shape, color, gender, etc. because (yes, we’ve all heard this before) breast cancer—or any cancer—isn’t just about the person who “gets it.” It’s also about their parents, their children, their spouses, siblings, friends, lovers, neighbors, their co-workers, and anyone else who loves or knows them. Breast cancer is not just about some middle-aged lady in a pink T-shirt and pink hat: it’s about everyone.
Participating in this event did make me more aware, not only of the way cancer touches so many lives, but of the larger issue of what we are doing to this planet to make this possible. The more we poison and abuse our environment, I believe, the more this cancer---and other types of cancer—will grow and spread. In fact, in just the past year I have learned of so many more friends and acquaintances who have been diagnosed---one as young as 23—that it boggles my mind. Every time I turn around, there it is. My prayers, every day, are filled with people whom I personally know who have cancer. And I imagine that yours are, too. (If you don’t pray, I know you’re sending out healing vibes.)
Thus, no one has to remind me about breast cancer. But sitting in my kayak on a sparkling blue lake, I was reminded of how we are ALL in this together. This raft will sink or float depending on what we as a species do. Will we continue to torment our planet, or learn to nurture, replenish, and respect this sacred orb upon which we live?
The fact that nearly 2000 kayakers showed up at a remote Adirondack lake gives me hope, and hope is certainly part of the equation.If the spirit moves you during the month of October or any other month, go to Susan G. Komen (http://ww5.komen.org/) to make a donation, or drop one at my special cause, Army of Women (http://www.armyofwomen.org). But even more importantly, let’s do everything in our power to stop poisoning our planet—which, we now know for certain--is a not-very-roundabout way of poisoning ourselves, and the ones we love.
Kathy and Carolyn at Fourth Lake
At last count, 1,925 kayaks and canoes (plus passengers) at the One Square Mile of Hope breast cancer fundraising event for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Inlet, New York. The event will be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.